It was fun while it lasted in Los Angeles, but the national title hopes are gone. Looking back, the hype that led the season was a bit premature as this roster had no realistic chance at finishing the season with a BCS title.
The USC Trojans are fielding a sanctioned football team that has only 75 scholarship players. It may have been possible for a team with little to no depth to survive through the Pac-12, but to make it into the national title game and win would have been unbelievable.
There were a lot of votes in the USC corner to start the season. The Trojans were the consensus No. 1 team in the country and have now lost three games. The last team to start the season No. 1 and finish with at least three losses was the 1984 Auburn Tigers team.
It is easy to see why the Trojans were a favorite to start the year—they had all the star power.
All the key stars were there for this USC team with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee on the outside, and a Heisman-looking quarterback leading the offense. There were still holes to start the season.
If not for the Silas Redd transfer, the Trojans would be hurting for production from the backfield. Landing a senior running back with the experience and talent of Redd was big for the program, but it happened after all the hype was already laid upon the Trojans.
The defense was a bigger story. The Trojans had a stud starter at safety in T.J. McDonald in the secondary, but the rest of the squad was very untested. The defensive line was expected to be a concern, and after Kenjon Barner’s record-setting, 321-yard day against USC, all the concern is proving to have reason.
The Trojans have now lost three games this season, and they may lose at least one more with Notre Dame capping the 2012 schedule. Arizona State is also a team that could create some issues for this USC squad, and they come next weekend.
It was easy to believe in the star quarterback and the skill players that were at his disposal heading into the season. The Trojans play in a conference that is controlled by offense, so if this USC offensive unit could just hang with the competition the Trojans could be special.
They almost did hang with Oregon, scoring 51 points against the Ducks. It was a valiant effort, but the loss shows that the crowning of USC was premature. Oregon put up 426 rushing yards against the weak Trojans front seven.
This was a Trojans team that had to face Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State and Notre Dame this season. If they were able to win the South Division they would face a Pac-12 title game.
Why sportswriters and others looked at this team and said yes to a No. 1 ranking is beyond belief, but it happened. An ensuing tumble not seen in 20 years may change the future vetting process for the preseason No. 1 team. It clearly wasn’t the Trojans this fall.
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